Crime & Justice

Sindh deploys Rangers to protect courts

By Amna Nasir Jamal


Rangers stand guard outside the Sindh High Court in Karachi August 12. [Amna Nasir Jamal]

KARACHI -- Sindh Rangers have been deployed to the Sindh High Court, city courts, special courts and tribunals to protect the legal community after the August 8 suicide bombing at Quetta Civil Hospital in Balochistan.

A suicide bomber decimated the Balochistan capital's legal community when he blew himself up at the hospital and killed at least 70 people. Both the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group Jamatul Ahrar and the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) took responsibility.

The victims were almost all lawyers, with some journalists included. They had gathered at the hospital after the assassination of Balochistan Bar Association President Bilal Awar Kasi that day. The attorneys had gathered to mourn him.

Lawyers throughout the country boycotted court proceedings August 9 to protest terrorism against their community.

The same day, Director General of Sindh Rangers Maj. Gen. Bilal Akbar met with lawyers at the Sindh High Court to discuss their security concerns.

After meeting representatives from the Pakistan Bar Council, Sindh Bar Council, Sindh High Court Bar Association and other legal entities, Bilal made the decision to deploy the Rangers August 11.

Security plan for the courts

During the hour-long meeting, Bilal said law enforcement agencies had recently prevented 34 incidents of terrorism in the province, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairperson Farogh Naseem told reporters.

"Soon after the Quetta incidents, the Sindh Rangers were contacted to seek security for the courts and the lawyers in the province," he told Pakistan Forward. "The Rangers also initiated registration of the members of the legal fraternity on mobile phone applications."

Naseem said he would hold meetings with Rangers directors general and chiefs of security in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to devise a nationwide security plan for lawyers and the courts.

"Terrorists cannot subdue lawyers and journalists by carrying out cowardly attacks against them," he told Pakistan Forward.

Serious steps required to curb terrorism

"I highly condemn the merciless killing of innocent lawyers and other citizens in Quetta," said Rehan Aziz Malik, former secretary of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi. "Lawyers cannot be scared in the face of terrorism. We will fight for security, [and] we are starting from Sindh."

Targeted killings of lawyers and sub-standard security have been a big issue, he said. "To counter this, security has been increased in and around the District Court Building and Sindh High Court Building in Karachi, which ... should have been increased much earlier."

The fragile security situation nationwide, and in Karachi in particular, requires immediate and serious action, he said.

"The government needs to take more serious steps to curb this menace and on an extremely urgent basis," Malik said. "For the time being, the number of security personnel have increased."

"One can witness the deployment of Rangers at all entry and exit points of the ... Sindh High Court and the district courts," Malik added.

"May God help us bring back peace to our country," he said.

Increased security in courts

Authorities are enforcing strict measures at all courts in Sindh. Lawyers, litigants and other visitors must go through a security check before entry.

"Thousands of people visit the city courts complex daily," said Khalid Khan of Karachi, the sub-inspector of security in charge of securing inmates brought from jail. "The Rangers' deployment has added to the manpower at the five entry and exit points at the city courts complex."

A delegation from Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) Hyderabad and District Bar Association Hyderabad also met with Rangers officials and requested their protection.

"The Rangers have agreed to secure the courts," SHCBA President Ayaz Tunio told Pakistan Forward.

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